Ivan Beritashvili

Beritashvili, Ivan Solomonovich


(also I. Beritov). Born Dec. 29, 1884 (Jan. 10, 1885) in the village of Vedzhini, Tiflis Province. Soviet physiologist, founder and director of a school of physiology in Georgia; academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1939), of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR (1944), of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR (1941); Hero of Socialist Labor (1964). Graduated from the University of St. Petersburg (1910). In 1915–19 assistant professor at the University of Odessa. From 1919 professor at the University of Tbilisi; from 1935 also director of the Institute of Physiology at the University of Tbilisi. From 1941 director, and from 1951 chief of scientific work, at the Institute of Physiology of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR.

Beritashvili’s work is related to the physiology of the muscular and nervous systems. Beritashvili has established that for every reflex movement of an extremity there exists a coordinating apparatus in those segments of the spinal column into which the sensory nerve fibers from that extremity enter. He determined that during coordinated movement central inhibition operates just as rhythmically as does excitation. He discovered general central inhibition during every reflex action, effected in the spinal column by the so-called Rolando’s gelatinous substance, in the central portions of the brain by the reticular formation, and in the neocortex by the dendrite plexus of the first layer. Beritashvili established the appearance of two-way temporary connections during the formation of every conditioned reflex and also the formation of conditioned reflexes with the reverse order of combination, when the unconditioned stimulus precedes the conditioned one. In studying the behavior of vertebrate animals by the methodology of free movements, Beritashvili revealed in them an image-forming psychoneural activity, the chief regulator of the behavior of highly organized vertebrates. He has studied in detail one of the forms of mental activity—spatial orientation in vertebrate animals and man—and established the essential significance in this orientation of the labyrinthine receptors as well as the visual ones. Since 1959, Beritashvili has been studying phylogenetically (from fish to monkeys) the phenomena of image-forming and emotional memory; he has established the role played in these by various parts of the cerebrum. He received the State Prize of the USSR in 1941. He has been awarded the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and various medals.


Uchenie ob osnovnykh elementakh tsentral’noi koordinatsii skeletnoi muskulatury. Petrograd, 1916.
Individual’no priobretennaia deiatel’nost’ tsentral’noi nervnoi si-stemy. Tiflis, 1932.
Obshchaia fiziologiia myshechnoi i nervnoi sistemy. Moscow, 1937.
O nervnykh mekhanizmakh prostranstvennoi orientatsii vysshykh pozvonochnykh zhivotnykh. Tbilisi, 1959.
Nervnye mekhanizmy povedeniia vysshikh pozvonochnykh zhivotnykh. Moscow, 1961.
“Ot spinnomozgovoi koordinatsii dvizheniia do psikhonervnoi in-tegratsii povedeniia.” Vestnik AN SSSR, 1966, no. 7.
Ob obraznoipsikhonervnoi deiatel’nosti zhivotnykh. Moscow, 1966.
Pamiat’ pozvonochnykh zhivotnykh, ee kharakteristika i pro-iskhozhdenie. Tbilisi, 1968.
Struktura ifunktsii kory bol’shogo mozga. Moscow, 1969.